Updated: Jun 8, 2020
[ Recent update log: BELOW]
The space travel community doesn’t believe in borders. Whether it’s the scientists, the astronaut or the space enthusiasts, like me, everybody gets equally excited to see any advancement or milestone getting achieved in any corner of the world. Entrepreneur, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched human to space via Demo-2 mission on Dragon capsule, successfully landed the falcon booster and is on it's way to ISS and this is why it is simple yet one of the most important missions carried out by SpaceX and NASA.
Elon Musk is a bold envisionist who founded his company SpaceX in 2002 with a vision to take humans to space as efficiently, safely and cheaply as possible. Finally, the company’s important objective is about to get fulfilled. His company has launched many missions starting from putting satellites to space to delivering supplies to ISS and has bigger and crazier dreams on their bucket list. They have done these at such a low cost and efficiently that no other space agencies have still been able to walk shoulder to shoulder with them. SpaceX has mastered reusing their rockets which is primarily the major factor in cutting the mission’s costs.
The launch date was shifted to 30 May, 7: 22 pm UTC (12:52 am 31 May IST) from 27 May (updates below). This is the first time after the retirement of Space Shuttle in 2011, humans was launched from American Soil. The Crew Dragon (Dragon 2) spacecraft, unlike Space Shuttle, is very cost-efficient, way safer and reusable spacecraft. It is the spacecraft that has been used for the mission to carry two astronauts to International Space Station (ISS), which will consume around 19 hours to reach and dock after launch. The two astronaut are the mission commander, Doug Hurley and joint operation commander, Bob Behnken. The mission was initially planned to last for a week or two, but later they decided to keep the astronaut for 2-3 months. After they complete their stay at ISS, they will undock and return to Earth via an ocean splashdown. Though the spacecraft is reusable, they opted out from doing so (for the brief term).
The mission, although it contains simple checkpoints, actually carries huge loads of expectations and will open a road towards a different future. It is the first time a private company will carry astronauts to ISS and this will open splendid opportunities and will heavily commercialize space travels. For years, governments mostly monetized and administered space travel missions. This led to a few scopes for revolutionary advancements and carried no incentives to bring down the costs of carrying out a single mission. Recently, many private companies have entered the space race, especially SpaceX, and is changing the whole framework of the space industries. SpaceX, carrying astronauts today, will be able to take tourists to space tomorrow. Observing the recent trends, we can say that soon, people like us can save money and take that beautiful ride encircling the Earth and the day is not so far. As of today, many people have signed up to become space tourists when the time comes. Future projects also include setting up of space hotels and lodges.
The crew dragon was supposed to lift off with the two American astronaut on 27 May EST but the mission was abandoned at T-16 minute due to bad weather while they were about to fill the second stage with liquid oxygen. A SpaceX official was sure that the weather would clear off if they could postpone it by 10 minutes. But the launch window of today was instantaneous and couldn't afford any delay or compromise. So, they had to postpone it to the next favourably day, i.e. on 30th of May, 2020 at around 7:22pm UTC. They also had a 3rd launch window on 31st May, 7pm UTC but it was launched successfully on the next launch date.
SpaceX and NASA will monitor 50 different aspects of the weather data from launch complex 39A during the launch day, checking upon wind speed and direction, probability of precipitation, structure of clouds, possibility of lightning, upper level wind shear limits and various other factors. They will keep track of the weather at the Eastern coast of USA and Canada and the Atlantic Ocean till the edge of Europe.
A clear weather is very much essential for a safe and perfect launch of the vehicle. Low pressures and thunderstorms are a total NoGo for the mission control. The rocket seemed to be in a good condition all the way from the start and will be ready for the next launch day.
Crew Dragon has specific launch windows to minimise loss, use fuel effeciently and to reach the destination orbit via the shortest and easiest path possible.
The launch was carried out successfully with no visible problems and now the capsule is on a nominal orbit, maneuvering it to the orbit radius of ISS.
If it all goes according to the plan (time in UTC):
Saturday, May 30
• 3 p.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins (continues through docking)
• 7:22 p.m. – Liftoff
• 8:09 p.m. – Crew Dragon phase burn
• 8:55 p.m. – Far-field manual flight test
• 10:30 p.m. – Postlaunch news conference at Kennedy Administrator Bridenstine
Sunday, May 31
TBD a.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
2:29 p.m. – Docking
4:45 p.m. – Hatch Open
5:05 p.m. – Welcome ceremony
7:15 p.m. – Post-arrival news conference at Johnson
Stay tuned as we cover you with live updates and instant news
Check out their exceptional Crew Dragon animation video.
Check out the demonstration of their robust launch escape system